The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:

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An image of Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson and Kenya Barris
Richard Shotwell / AP Photo

As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws closer, popular culture wrestles the influence of the president-elect. In its latest episode, ‘Lemons,’ the ABC television show ‘Black-ish’ grappled with post-election grief and what the impending presidency might mean for communities of color.

 

 

 

 

Host Frank Stasio talked with popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown about the program and how it compares to political commentary in other television shows.

An image of service members at Camp Lejeune in NC
Public domain

Veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune who were exposed to contaminated drinking water now have a chance to receive additional compensation.

The Obama administration will provide more than $2 billion in disability benefits to veterans assigned to Lejeune when the camp's water was tainted between August 1953 and December 1987. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that up to 900,000 service members might have been exposed to the contaminated water.

A picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dick DeMarsico / Wikimedia Commons

Martin Luther King Jr. is an inimitable cultural icon known for his vast contributions to the advancement of civil rights in the United States. A new play features an intimate portrait of the civil rights figure by putting his inner concerns and vulnerabilities on display.

Courtesy of Nancy Peacock

"I’ve been to hangings before, but never my own” is a line that came to author Nancy Peacock one day while she was on an early-morning walk.

Image of Shaw University President Tashni Dubroy
Terrence Jones / Shaw University

As a teenager in Jamaica, Tashni Dubroy struggled to understand chemistry. But after a breakthrough moment in her high school chemistry class, she fell in love with the science.

She moved to the United States to attend community college, and then to Raleigh to attend Shaw University.

The Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and the LGBTQ Center of Durham join forces for the second year in a row for a fundraiser cabaret show. This year’s show is set in a dystopian near-future where a fictional character named Zee must fight for sex-positive liberation from the tyranny of an evil empire.
 

Image of Sherri Holmes
Courtesy of Sherri Holmes

How did one word both lift a white playwright to American fame and condemn a black actor to failure?

An image of the book cover 'The Second Mrs. Hockaday'
Algonquin Books

In the summer of 2014, writer Susan Rivers was busy researching historical documents in her local library when she came across something interesting. It was an inquest from 1865 about a young woman who was accused of giving birth to a child and murdering the infant while her husband was away fighting for the Confederacy.

An image of an NSCU biology professor holding a St. Francis satyr butterfly
Jay Price

Note: this program is a rebroadcast from August 17, 2016.

For years, the Pentagon has partnered with conservation groups to protect hundreds of endangered and threatened species on military bases across the country.

The partnership started at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in the early 1990s after a rare woodpecker was found and halted training on parts of the base. Since then, the military and conservationists have worked together to manage the bases' rich ecosystems.

Prescription pills
Wikpedia

Note: this program is a rebroadcast from December 15, 2016.

President Obama signed legislation this week allocating $1 billion dollars to address the nation's worsening opioid crisis. Overdose deaths are on the rise, and current policies are inadequate in addressing the issues. 

Courtesy Samuel Peterson

Samuel Peterson has battled addiction all of his life.  When he was young, it was sugar. In his twenties, he turned to methadone and cocaine. As an adult, he moved to prescription painkillers and later heroin.

He eventually found sobriety, and in his 50s, Peterson enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also wrote a play. But underneath these life achievements was the pull of addiction.
 

An image of community organizer Bree Newsome
Courtesy of Bree Newsome

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 9, 2017.

Activist Bree Newsome gained national attention in the summer of 2015 when she was arrested for scaling the flagpole at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, and removing the Confederate flag. The act of civil disobedience took place in the wake of the killing of nine African-American people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Courtesy of Dawn Sinclair Shapiro

For more than 70 years, programs around the United States forcibly sterilized tens of thousands of American citizens.

An image of bluegrass mandolinist Sierra Hull
Gina Binkley

Bluegrass singer and songwriter Sierra Hull has been playing music professionally since she was just a kid.

Now, at 25, Sierra has released a new album that is a departure from her previous work. "Weighted Mind" features a more stripped down version of Sierra Hull's sound- a departure from her earlier works. “Weighted Mind” is nominated for a Grammy.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Hull about her life and career, and she performs songs from her new album.

 Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Members of the Senate Armed Services committee met this morning to address cybersecurity and threats to the United States. President-elect Donald Trump denies any interference by Russians in his election. 

And new members of Congress took their oaths. What are the legislative goals for 2017?

Host Frank Stasio talks with Time Warner Cable News Washington Reporter Geoff Bennett talks about the inquiry and the latest political news from Capitol Hill.

Voting sign
Wikipedia Commons

A new report from the Electoral Integrity Project, based at Harvard University and the University of Sydney, indicates that North Carolina can no longer be considered a functioning democracy. 

An image of entomologist Holly Menninger with a cicada on her head.
Courtesy Holly Menninger

Entomologist by training, Holly Menninger has spent much of her life bridging the gap between the science happening in labs across the country, and the general public. As a high school student she was responsible for explaining the Ice Age to visitors at a local museum.

An image of acrots Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the film 'La La Land'
Summit Entertainment

Whether it was action blockbusters like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” or sci-fi thrillers like “Arrival,” Hollywood offered a dynamic mix for audiences in 2016.
 

For this month’s Movies on the Radio, listeners picked their favorite films from the past year, including critically-acclaimed movies like “La La Land” and “Moonlight." 

Image of Sheri Castle on her first birthday
Courtesy of Sheri Castle

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from November 14, 2016.

Food and storytelling have gone hand in hand for Sheri Castle since she was a little girl. At the age of four, she wrote her first original recipe: a smoothie she called “Hawaiian Tropic Sunset Delight.”

Producer Laura Pellicer shares her favorite stories of 2016.
Charlie Shelton-Ormond / WUNC

For the final episode of our annual "Producer Picks" series,  veteran producer Katy Barron, and a rookie, The State of Things' newest producer, Laura Pellicer reflect on the stand-out stories from 2016. Barron and Pellicer are the behind the scenes actors that find fresh voices, make editorial decisions, and get the show to air every weekday. For this segment they step in front of the microphone to share their favorite segments they had a hand in producing. 

Ken Rudin
kenrudinpolitics.com

It has been a wild year in American politics. A crowded field of presidential hopefuls whittled to two candidates: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

After months on the campaign trail, Clinton won the popular vote by the largest margin in history but Trump received more Electoral College votes. Meanwhile, President Obama finishes his eight-year stint in the White House. What legacy will he leave? Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the year in politics.

Great Dismal Swamp
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region - Photo of the Week - Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (VA)Uploaded by AlbertHerring, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30924548

For more than a century before the Civil War, escaped slaves used the thick and shadowy brush of the Great Dismal Swamp as a hideout.

Image of a quilt made by Elizabeth Keckley
Kent State University Museum

In 1868, Elizabeth Keckley published the memoir “Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House.” She wrote in the preface, “I have often been asked to write my life, as those who know me know that it has been an eventful one.” 

Photograph of Producer Anita Rao with NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock
Charlie Shelton-Ormond

As 2016 comes to a close, The State of Things staff goes “behind the glass” to join Frank Stasio for conversations about their favorite segments of the year.

An image of producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond with hip-hop producer  9th Wonder
Anita Rao

As the year wraps up, "The State of Things" takes a moment to reflect on the highlights of 2016 with the program's producers. Some of producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond's favorite segments include conversations with hip-hop producer 9th Wonder and hip-hop artist Rapsody.

He also chose a conversation with members of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team and recaps what brought identical twin comedians the Sklar brothers to the Triangle.
 

Host Frank Stasio talks with producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond about his favorite conversations from 2016. 

 

The State of Things host Frank Stasio, NPR Political Correspondent Don Gonyea, and The State of Things managing editor Laura Lee
Anita Rao

As 2016 comes to a close, The State of Things staff go “behind the glass” and join host Frank Stasio to discuss their favorite shows of the year.

One of managing editor Laura Lee’s favorite segments was a conversation with Bill Leuchtenberg, professor emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill, about his book on the U.S. presidency. She also highlights a conversation with UNC System President Margaret Spellings recorded on her first day in office.

NC Legislature
W Edward Callis III

   Lawmakers are back in Raleigh for yet another special session​the fifth of the year.This time they reconvened to consider repeal of the controversial House Bill 2, commonly called “the bathroom bill.” The Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its non-discrimination ordinance on the condition that the legislature repeal HB2. Now it appears the House may not have the votes needed for a repeal. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii.​ 

Toby was one of many 'learned pigs' that spelled words and solved math problems onstage in England and America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Basic Books

Pigs are a beloved part of North Carolina culture and vital to the state’s economy, but internationally their reputation is more divisive.

An image of Negar Mottahedeh
Golbarg Bashi

It's easy to think of a "selfie" as a narcissistic way to accrue "likes" on social media and  flaunt your latest traveling adventures. But every "selfie" tells a story about the photographer's world.

Negar Mottahedeh, associate professor of literature at Duke University in Durham, says taking a selfie is a humanizing way to document history in the age of social media. In a recent speech at TEDxDurham, Mottahedeh illustrated the ways selfies can be used as tools for protest and citizen journalism.

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